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Nov. 2, 2023

Global Health Studies Program highlights interconnectedness of health

Each year on Nov. 3, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention celebrates One Health Day. This global campaign brings attention to the health concerns of people, animals and the environment, and how they are all related to one another.
And since 2020, the MSU Global Health Studies Program shines a light on this interrelatedness every day through an online academic setting. 
“You do not have to have a background in health to be successful in this program,” said Rebecca A. Malouin, Global Health Studies director. “While developing the program, we thought about students planning for professional school, taking a gap year, looking for a change in profession and international students who are interested in global health.”

Collaboration makes the MSU Global Health Studies Program work

“I think of this program like an MBA because this is a general degree that could apply to people from many different backgrounds who want to work in a wide variety of areas,” Malouin said.

Academically housed in the College of Osteopathic Medicine with administrative responsibilities in the MSU Institute for Global Health, the program includes faculty from across the university.

Eight different colleges are currently represented in the curriculum, including the College of Osteopathic Medicine, College of Human Medicine, College of Communication Arts and Sciences, College of Arts and Letters, College of Veterinary Medicine, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, College of Nursing and International Studies and Programs. Global health practitioners also participate as faculty, as do international colleagues.

Malouin said she is always looking for ways to collaborate with other programs across the university and new courses to offer.

“This is an asynchronous online program,” Malouin said. “Students can earn a Master of Science in Global Health degree or a graduate certificate. So far, we’ve had students who are lawyers, physicians, hospital administrators, teachers, nurses, social workers and members of the military. We even have one student from the World Health Organization who already is doing the work that many of our students aspire to do.”

As part of the MSU Institute for Global Health, the MSU Global Health Studies Program offers 17 different study abroad programs in 11 different countries. Right now, the Institute for Global Health offers international opportunities to more than 100 students a year from a variety of academic programs, including the Master of Science in Global Health.

The program is built on the competencies recommended by the Consortium of Universities for Global Health and has benefitted from learning from and collaborating with other online programs at MSU, especially the Master of Public Health program, Malouin explained.

How to work in a global health environment

A strong sense of community is key to understanding global health issues, Malouin said. The students who are drawn to this program tend to be equally as diverse as the organization, faculty and topics of discussion. It’s important that program students welcome and appreciate different cultures, disciplines and perspectives.

Topics of study might include the way environmental factors like climate change cause animals or insects to migrate, resulting in a larger geographical area for illnesses like Lyme disease or malaria that impact humans, Malouin explained. Infectious diseases, the short- and long-term effects of war, chronic disease and clean water are also topics of interest.

“Skills learned in Global Health Studies can be applied anywhere,” Malouin said. “A lot of students want to really make a difference in the world as individuals. This program helps them understand the importance of multidisciplinary teamwork and collaboration in addressing global health problems.

Planned expansions – by popular demand

Growth opportunities are already underway for this young program. A Global Health Certificate program is now available for osteopathic medical students who would like a more focused experience in global health throughout their four years in the College of Osteopathic Medicine. It’s a pilot program and more students than expected are eager to participate, Malouin said.

In January, an undergraduate course, OST 402: Introduction to Global Health, will be offered by the College of Osteopathic Medicine.

No matter where the students come from, Malouin makes sure they understand that this program brings together many of the best things about MSU.

“There’s been a huge student interest,” she added. “It’s nice because we are online asynchronous so it’s easy for people to attend from anywhere in the world and students can finish the program in as little as one year. It brings the world to MSU while bringing MSU to the world.”


By: Dalin Clark

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